So, it’s World Toilet Day. Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it?
I mean, I’m assuming that most people reading this have access to a toilet. Heck, I have two. My major DIY success story is that I once fixed one of them. Toilets are, frankly, something I take for granted.
And yet World Toilet Day isn’t a silly, random celebration, it’s deadly serious. 2.5 billion people don’t have access to safe, clean toilet facilities, something like a third of the world’s population. From the comfort of my two-toilet house in Britain, this is scarcely believable; for many people in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa it’s a day-to-day reality.
I guess the thing that shocked me most about all this was the ramifications beyond simply spending a penny. This lack of toilets disproportionately affects women – girls start their menstrual cycle and end up missing school because of the lack of hygienic facilities; women are raped because relieving themselves in ‘privacy’ (at night, or out in the open with no-one around) leaves them vulnerable. I knew that lack of sanitation leads to disease, but these wider issues make me look at my toilets with new eyes – it’s not just about hygiene, it’s about equality and safety and a future.
That’s why initiatives such as Toilet Twinning are so important – they can do something about a situation that is, frankly, unacceptable. And yes, there’s a bit of a stigma around talking about toilets, but politeness shouldn’t take priority over survival. I mean, I’m twitchy about using the official hashtag for the day because it uses ‘bad’ language, but some things are more important than taboos.
So look upon your toilet with renewed respect. It is, after all, World Toilet Day.